Shona Laing's career began as a teen, when she performed her song '1905' on talent show New Faces. In 1973 it reached number four on the local charts, and Laing won several music awards, including Best New Artist. During seven years in London, she spent time in Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Back in New Zealand by the mid 1980s, Laing explored a synthesiser-based sound on albums Genre and South. Single '(Glad I'm) Not A Kennedy', got to number two in the NZ charts, and sold globally. Later albums included New on Earth and the live Roadworks. In 2013 Laing was inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.
One of the gentler songs on Shona Laing's 1992 album New on Earth, this warm, Latin-tinged number is in polar opposition to the staunch, synth-laden stylings that won attention on her previous release South. Karyn Hay's purposefully minimal clip concentrates exclusively on Laing, highlighted by red and blue filters as she plays acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, the stylised symbols seen on her face form part of an interstellar background. Laing has called New on Earth "the best record I ever made". Mercy of Love won Laing her second Silver Scroll songwiting award in 1992.
The fall of the Iron Curtain was still several years away when Shona Laing wrote her first APRA Silver Scroll winner 'Soviet Snow'. The world had been "teasing at war like children" over decades of the arms race and Cold War brinksmanship and the threat of nuclear winter was very real. The video is a suitably chilly but dizzying montage that marries Russian iconography and Soviet imagery to the song's urgent synthesised beats. Laing later stripped 'Soviet Snow' of its synthpop trappings in an acoustic version on her 2007 album Pass the Whisper.
Initially avoided by New Zealand radio stations — who in the same period, showed as little interest in playlisting Crowded House classic 'Don't Dream It's Over' — this became Shona Laing's biggest international single, in a career notable for stylistic change. '(Glad I'm) Not a Kennedy' got to number two in NZ, and number 14 in the US rock charts. Here, the acoustic songbird of 1905 is recast as serious synth-pop singer, in a clip which mixes native beaches, brutalist architecture and poignant archival footage of the ill-fated US president.
Shona Laing's long musical career began with '1905', a song dedicated to Henry Fonda. At 17 years old, Shona took the song to second place on talent show New Faces in 1972. Early the following year it rose to number four on the NZ top 10. This short live clip, thought to be filmed at Christchurch Town Hall, captures Shona in extreme close-up, serving to magnify the emotional intensity of the song. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a mimed performance; her voice is absolutely spot-on, and the crowd reacts with rapturous applause.